Plymouth woman says organ donation changed her family's life - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Plymouth woman says organ donation changed her family's life

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Tina Ray lost both her sons and had their organs donated, according to their wishes. (WFSB photo) Tina Ray lost both her sons and had their organs donated, according to their wishes. (WFSB photo)
Michael and Nick Ray's organs helped save lives, according to their mother. (WFSB photo) Michael and Nick Ray's organs helped save lives, according to their mother. (WFSB photo)
PLYMOUTH, CT (WFSB) -

A woman from Plymouth said organ donation changed her family's life.

Ten years ago, Tina Ray said she had a conversation with her 20-year-old son, Nick Ray, that most people do not want to have.

"He and I had a discussion about organ donation and three days later he got into a car accident," Tina Ray said.

Her son did not survive.

"He had severe head trauma," she said. "When I saw him, you knew there was no recovery. I promised him that I would not make him stay and live a life he did not want to live."

She said she did not imagine she would be following her son's wishes to have his organs donated so soon.

"I think the fact that we knew we were helping other people was helping us in the grieving process," said Tina Ray.

Nick Ray's organs saved four lives. His heart, liver, kidney and pancreas were donated.

Tina Ray said she got to know the recipient of her son's heart, a college professor from Massachusetts. She said she meets him once a year and has felt Nick's heart in his chest.

"He was not in good shape," she explained. "He was dying. If he had not gotten a heart transplant, he would have died very soon."

Six years later, the unthinkable happened. It was another tragedy.

Tina Ray's other son, 23-year-old Michael Ray, suffered a brain injury and was determined to be brain dead. She said her grief was unimaginable.

Michael Ray's organs were also donated, according to his wishes.

"It helped him, knowing that good things come out his brother's death," Tina Ray said. "Yes, it's my tragedy, but it's somebody else's miracle."

Two years ago, her family was in the midst of another crisis. Her Husband, Don Ray, was sick. Doctors said he was born with a kidney disease and had reached a point where his doctor told him he would have to go on dialysis if he did not receive a kidney.

Tina Ray said she was a match with the right blood type. She donated her kidney to her husband.

She said it created a bond never to be broken.

"It was very strong, it's always been very strong," said Don Ray. "It's even more so now that a part of her is in me."

Tina Ray said she hoped more people will have that tough conversation with their family members.

"I think it's something we all shy away from because we don't want to think about all the bad things that happen," she said. "But inevitably, bad things happen. And if you don't talk about it and you don't know what your family members want, then nobody knows what to do when that situation comes about."

Life Choice Donor Services in Connecticut said the need for organ donation is great. There are 1,400 people in the state waiting for transplants.

Doctors said there are a lot of myths about it.

Some people think they would be too old at the time of death to donate. Doctors said that's not true. Donors have been over 90 years old.

They said the ability to donate is determined at the time of death.

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